Game of the Year:
BATMAN: ARKHAM KNIGHT (PS4,XBOX ONE, PC)
2015 was another stand out year for all things Batman. Scott Snyder shaved Gordon’s mustache and made him the new 1% man. Most of us are finally coming around to the idea of Ben Affleck being Batman on screen in the 2016 Justice League Zero movie or whatever they’re calling it. This year also marked the blockbuster finale of the Arkham game trilogy from developer, Rocksteady.
Batman: Arkham Knight is our pick for comic book game of the year.
Now let’s talk about what made Batman: Arkham Knight the king of the comic book fan mountain. Batman games have been around since before the pop culture explosion. From the NES to the PlayStation 2, previous Bat games never quite “got it” when it came to creating an experience that utilizes everything Batman can do. If you’ve been reading comics for years, you know he can do just about anything. Then along came a UK studio with a wealth of gaming experience and an unparalleled passion for the character. In 2009, Batman: Arkham Asylum was everything we wanted. A story all its own with the vicarious experience of being the Dark Knight. This year’s finale closes that story and cements this trilogy’s legacy.
While other comic book based games have been content to phone in nods to the hardcore readership audience, Batman: Arkham Knight is a multi-layered world that utilizes almost every aspect of the Bat universe across its 75 year history with more than just a cheap collectible or token. This third chapter was the culmination and polish to perfection of the Arkham games. From the moment you start by roasting the Joker and take your first dive off the GCPD building to soar over the sesspool of an under siege Gotham; this game puts you in the dire emotions of stories like The Dark Knight, Nightfall, Death in the Family, and No Man’s Land.
It’s trendy for most video games to incorporate some kind of online multiplayer experience, but often the result is a shoehorned add on that only extends the game’s life a few more hours. Even WB Montreal tried with their Arkham Origins game though the result was better left forgotten. Rocksteady has a story to tell and they’ve pooured all their resource into telling it leaving no room for online components and the game is that much better for it.
Halloween in Gotham, Batman must stop the Scarecrow from covering the city in fear gas all the while being hunted by the “mysterious” Arkham Knight. A mercenary with a pretty big grudge against Batman. If you’ve some how managed to avoid any spoilers and haven’t played the game don’t worry we won’t tell you the obvious twist. But the story is only the tip of the game’s experience. Of course, you’ll spend hours on the side quests tracking down Gotham’s most nefarious villains yet what really invests players in Batman: Arkham Knight is what you get when you explore this world. It’s almost like a movie you want to see twice in order to comb through those things you might have missed the first time around. Go back and purposely let Batman die during the side quests. You’ll have tons of game over screen scenes and dialogue to entertain you. This game is loaded enough to put even the most cynical Batman fans in their seat for hours upon end.
Really the only downside of Batman: Arkham Knight had to do with the downloadable episodes which followed the game’s release. New story based missions where players would step into the role of Batgirl, Nightwing, even Catwoman were just too out of place and short often only lasting 30min-1hr. Though the December “Season of Infamy” mission pack has been a welcomed change to the previous hum drum hour long experiences players previously received and has the distinction of being the only DLC for the game that feels necessary.
As for if Arkham Knight has anymore secrets left? Well it still hasn’t been a full year of post support, but Rocksteady keep touting that the game is their curtain call. While it’s exciting to think about what the studio will take on next; it wouldn’t be a surprise to see one last thing for their big Bat-Finale. Maybe even something tying into the first game. Arkham Knight seemed to miss the obvious return to the Asylum in order to see the origins of its title character.
Even in the internet generation storytelling hasn’t made synergy a consistently useful tool. The cross media of Batman: Arkham Knight’s comic book series’ did more than just serve as an advertising tie-in; it dove even further into the bottomless well of story the Arkham Knight game laid out.
Batman: Arkham Knight the digital first series picked up right after the events of Arkham City and the death of the Joker. If you’d read the recently finished series through to the end it filled in tons of prequel questions such as Harley working for the Penguin, how the Batmobile turned into a tank, and how all of the villains escaped. Written by Peter Tomasi, this series proved to be more than just another Bat title.
Tomasi also penned the recent Batman Arkham Knight: Genesis. The book filled in the missing parts the Arkham Knight’s life beginning with his captivity in Arkham Asylum during the events of Rocksteady’s first Batman game. Each issue delved deeper into the character’s twisted psyche as the Knight cape feared Batman’s allies and even took on some of the heavier hitters in the Bat universe.
Both these series win for Game Comic of the year. When you combine the interactive experience the Batman: Arkham Knight game with the digital and print prequel series it adds up to one of the best transmedia experiences since the Matrix and the AniMatrix.
Dear Rocksteady, please do a Superman game and wash away the stench left by this. Not Greg Miller, we’re talking about the Superman 64 game itself. You should check out KindaFunny.com for more of this:
What was your GOTY? Battlefront, Tomb Raider, Fallout 4, Everyone’s Gone to Rapture? Metal Gear Solid V?